Form Your Own World-View

Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, in his closing address at the Global Higher Education Forum (GHEF) 2009 said that universities in South countries should have their own world-view about knowledge and excellence.

“The dominant world-view prevailing today is controlled by Europe and the United States. In terms of relevance and suitability, this world-view may not necessarily be appropriate for universities in South countries,” said Dato’ Saifuddin.

He added that as a result of such confidence, a university’s excellence is measured according to the standards set by Europe and America including the question of ranking and benchmarking.

“I therefore urge the intellectuals and academicians, especially those in this region to explore and seek alternative models and systems to determine the benchmarks for excellence that are more suited to our traditions and culture,” he added.

According to Dato’ Saifuddin, this is important in the effort to develop knowledge and universities that are run by intellectuals from this region itself and which meet local needs.

The four-day Forum was officiated by the Minister of Higher Education, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin. More than 200 participants from 32 countries including Myanmar, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Papua New Guinea, the United States of America, Australia, Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and African countries attended GHEF 2009.

International Terminology

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education requested all institutions of higher learning not to summarily use international terminologies in the activities that are organized such as conferences and seminars where only a handful of participants and presenters from overseas are present. He said that this was to avoid any confusion that may arise.

Letter of Intent

Dato’ Saifuddin also witnessed the signing of a Letter of Intent for the collaboration between USM and the Center of Higher Education Research and Study (CHERS), Saudi Arabia as well as with the Association of African Universities (AAU), Association of Arab Universities (AARU) and the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration, USA.

USM was represented by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Tan Sri dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, while the Center of Higher Education Research and Study (CHERS), Saudi Arabia was represented by its Director, Dr. A.A. Mazi. The Secretary General, Prof. Goolam Mohamedbhai represented the Association of African Universities (AAU), while Assistant Secretary General, Prof. Faisal Abdulla Elhag and Council President, Prof. David Marshall represented the Association of Arab Universities (AARU) and the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration respectively.

Local Context

During the opening ceremony of GHEF, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khalid Nordin stressed the need for universities to ensure that their activities focused on the local social context.

“Studies carried out indicate that the impact of using the latest technology depends to a great extent on the local social context. However, technology is a complement and not a replacement to the prevailing practices and organizational set-up,” said Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khalid.

He added that the effectiveness of any higher education system depended very much on the perception of higher education as an “engine for growth” that reacts to the local context.

Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khalid, in his speech, also announced that the Ministry of Higher Education through its collaboration with the National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN) has fostered close cooperation in the ASEAN region through initiatives with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, known as CLMV.

“This is important because Malaysia and the CLMV nations have a similar geographical identity besides sharing traditions, values and development needs. This enables them to grab opportunities in education and research for the importance of this region,” said the Minister of Higher Education.

Also present at the opening ceremony were Dato’ Dr. Zulkefli A. Hassan, Chief Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education and Prof. Dato’ Ir. Radin Umar bin Radin Sohadi, Head of the Higher Education Department.

Centre for Global Sustainablility Studies

At the same function, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khalid launched the Centre for Global Sustainablility Studies (CGSS) whose role is to foster collaborative ties with various external agencies and implement ideas in the related fields.

“I believe CGSS will play a vital role in promoting the idea of sustainability, especially in the context of USM-APEX,” said the Minsiter of Higher Education.

GHEF 2009, whose theme is “Global Higher Education – Current Trends Future Perspectives” is organized by IPPTN (based in USM), Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia with the collaboration of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Studies, Ministry of Higher Education Saudi Arabia; Association of Arab Universities; Association of African Universities; Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC); and the International Association of Universities, France.

For further information please contact Mohamad Abdullah: [email protected]